Women’s Voices at Work

From Marissa Mayer’s high profile people-management decisions in her role as Yahoo’s CEO to Sheryl Sandberg’s provocative assertions in her  book Lean In, there continues to be a lot of debate about leadership and the sexes – and whether men and women lead differently. Although there’s some hype and “drama” surrounding this topic, it’s a critical one to explore, since it impacts our ability to drive critical changes in these chaotic times.

Consider three intriguing sets of research findings:

  1. As reported in the Harvard Business Review: “Many believe that bias against women lingers in the business world, particularly when it comes to evaluating their leadership ability…To our surprise, we found the opposite: As a group, women outshone men in most of the leadership dimensions measured. There was one exception, however, and it was a big one: Women scored lower on ‘envisioning’—the ability to recognize new opportunities and trends in the environment and develop a new strategic direction for an enterprise.”
  2. In contrast, Dension Consulting: “the global leader in culture change and assessment, has found that women are rated higher on all leadership dimensions than their male counterparts.  However, men rate themselves stronger on “having a mission” and “adaptability” (traits associated with strategic leadership), while women rate themselves stronger on “involvement” and “consistency” (traits associated with people leadership and tactical execution).”
  3. Similarly, in this blog postI shared findings based on the CQ/Change Intelligence Assessment, that men are significantly more likely to report acting as Visionary Change Leaders (focusing on long-term goals), and women as Coaches and Facilitators (focusing on people and implementing short-term objectives.

What can we make of these findings – and how do they impact our roles, behaviors and attitudes as leaders?  Both Denison’s and my research demonstrate that men and women perceive themselves differently as leaders – men focusing more on purpose, women on people and process.  In other words, men tend to focus on results, women on relationships that facilitate results.  And, at least according to the Harvard study, others perceive these differences as well – at least with respect to visionary leadership. Can these results partially explain the glass ceiling effect – that while women outnumber men in the workforce and at lower and middle management ranks, they are sorely absent from the upper echelons?

As Sheryl Sandberg observed during her career as the COO of Facebook and wrote in Lean In, of course there are organizational and societal barriers that women face – and yet, there may be important internal barriers that hinder us as well, which may be invisible even to us.  How we perceive ourselves – our mindset – impacts our behavior – our behavior impacts how others perceive us – and how others perceive us impacts our opportunities to move ahead and to make a difference.  This is true for all leaders, men and women.

These are critical issues to explore if we want expand the ability of our teams and organizations to get the best from our brightest.  When women’s voices are heard at the top levels, companies see bottom-line benefits spanning from profitability to retention.

Ready to create powerful and lasting results for your team or organization? Discover your Change Intelligence here. 

Does Leading Change Differ Across Cultures?

Although change is a universal challenge that we face as leaders, do styles of leading change show up differently across cultures?  What have we learned about leading change around the world – and what does it mean for you?

When I started researching Change Leadership Styles from around the world as part of developing the Change Intelligence/CQ Assessment, I was curious to see what differences would emerge. After consulting on global transformations and coaching leaders from around the world for decades, I had expected to find significant differences in styles of leading change across the globe.  What did I find when analyzing the CQ Assessment results and responses from Change Leaders spanning North America, South/Central America, Europe, India, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the Middle East, and Africa?

NO significant differences!

Change Leaders from around the world – whether they are in New York or New Delhi or Newcastle – are equally likely to collaborate (lead change by focusing on the “Heart”) or strategize (focusing on the “Head”) or plan (the “Hands”) as their dominant tendency in a change process.

How can this be, especially with boots-on-the-ground insight into what appears to be substantial regional, cultural, and ethnic differences?

My hypothesis – which needs to be tested empirically – is that while the prevalence of each Change Leader Style may be similar around the world, how they are enacted will vary based on cultural context.  That is, while Change Leaders around the world may focus to a similar degree on people, purpose, and process, what that translates into specific behaviors may vary widely based on cultural norms and accepted business practices.

For example, consider these two examples of Change Leaders and their personal insights and actions based on CQ Assessment results with varying cultural expectations:

  • A Project Manager in Singapore scores as a very “high Hands” Change Leader.  She realizes that she often struggles “influencing up,” resulting in less-than-ideal sponsorship of her challenging IT implementations.  However, in her words, initiating “skip level” meetings and causing senior leaders to “lose face” are frowned upon in Asian contexts.  Recognizing she needs to adapt her leadership style to more impactfully influence executives, she realizes she would benefit from flexing some “Head” muscle.  She creates a presentation about project status focusing on the business case for devoting more resources to the initiative, and shares that with her Program Manager.  This sets the Program Manager up to be able to deliver tough messages to the senior team in a straightforward and respectful manner, enabling the executives to have the data they need delivered in a culturally-appropriate way by a peer leader.
  • A very “high Head” Plant Manager from a US manufacturing firm is assigned to start-up a facility in Sweden.  After meeting with the mostly Swedish management team he will be working with for several years, he realizes that the traditional top-down approach he had been used in the American-based plants he had led would not work in the Swedish business culture, which has a strong history of workplace democracy and employee empowerment.  Therefore, he adopts a more “Heart plus Hands” facilitative style, creating teams to make critical decisions about the technical and social system plant design.  When he transfers back the US after a highly successful commissioning process to assume a Regional Vice President of Operations role, he introduces team-based engagement processes, in a way that synced with the performance-based culture and compensation system within that business unit.

How does this apply to your change initiatives within your team and organization? What are the implications for  any leader charged with the opportunity to spearhead new directions globally?  Change Intelligence is theawareness of one’s Change Leader Style, and the ability to adapt one’s style to be optimally effective leading change across a variety of people and situations.  Adding awareness of regional, ethnic and cultural variations – in addition to organizational, functional, and personality differences – enables leaders to be even more savvy in flexing their behaviors to engage for change with greater confidence and competence, and less stress and frustration.

Questions to ask yourself might include:

  • As you develop your CQ and better understand your style, what cultural, regional or ethnic variations do you need to consider as you put together your strategic change plan?
  • How do the strengths of your style mesh well in your current cultural context?  How could you deploy these in new and even more winning ways?
  • In what ways might you be driving change in a way that’s causing you personally – your behaviors – to be a barrier in the change process?  What shifts might you benefit from making in your leadership style to enable you to powerfully partner with others who may hold different norms and expectations of how the change process should be managed?

Ready to create powerful and lasting results for your team or organization? Discover your Change Intelligence here. 

Positive Feedback is the Biggest Source of Motivation

Here’s a question for you:
Do you NEED positive feedback to do a great job at work?  

Like you need oxygen and water?

Now, let me ask the question in a slightly different way:
When you RECEIVE positive feedback, does it make a difference?

Inspire you to do even better, make you feel valued?

In my experience, about a quarter of us really need atta-boys/girls – it provides us sustenance we crave.  However, when I ask the second question to clients, virtually every hand gets raised – when we receive acknowledgment, it makes a powerful impact.

Yet, what percentage of people report receiving ANY positive feedback in the workplace?  Less than 5% of us receive a pat-on-the-back in any given week.

If it makes such a difference, why don’t we do it, frequently and consistently?  Here are the top reasons I hear:

•  “Good work is a job requirement – I only recognize outstanding performance.”

•  “Top performers are self-motivated – they know they are doing a great job.”

•  “We’re business people – we don’t do that touchy-feely stuff.”


Positive feedback is the biggest source of motivation that leaders at all levels are leaving on the table.  It’s easy.  It’s free.  It makes both the giver and receiver feel great.  Especially in times of significant change and challenge, recognizing people for their contributions helps keep people engaged, committed, and shows you care.

Here are some simple hints for giving thanks that will be appreciated by almost everyone you lead:

•  When you see it, say it!  Don’t let good work go unnoticed.  What gets noticed, gets repeated.

•  Make it specific!  Saying “great job,” while nice to hear, can sound empty.  Saying “I really appreciated the great job you did putting together the communications plan for our new IT upgrade – it was very inclusive, thorough, and creative – thank you” lets the receiver know you know that what they are doing matters.

•  Make it personal!  Saying “I really appreciate….” or “it really helps me out when you…” reinforces your relationship, teamwork and partnership.  People connect with people first, and organizational engagement follows.

Change Intelligent leaders also customize their expressions of gratitude to the preferences of others.  People with different styles resonate best with different ways of saying “thanks”:

•  Coaches (high Heart style) value feedback that focuses on how they have helped and involved others through a change process; Drivers (high Head and Hands style) like to hear how they have pushed the change over the finish line and achieved daunting objectives.

•  Champions (high Heart and Head style) thrive on public applause and demonstrative praise; Executers (high Hands style) appreciate quieter forms of recognition focusing on their competent, planful, and structured approach.

•  Visionaries (high Head style) enjoy feedback that acknowledges their inventive inspiration towards exciting new horizons; Facilitators (high Hands and Heart style) like to know that they have done a good job supporting people through difficulties on the ground level and fostering team success.

Try to make a practice of sharing positive feedback with your team is one of the most leveraging behaviors you can develop to keep people engaged and motivated during the often long and taxing journey of change.

Consultant of the Year Award

I was thrilled and honored to be presented with the Change Management Consultant of the Year Award last year, during the first-ever Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Midwest Chapter Conference.  In the words of John Barker, Chapter President (pictured with me):

This award honors the change management practitioner who has contributed to the success of the organizations he/she serves and has improved upon the standard practices in change management and shown innovation.

The award is given to an individual that is recognized as having impact as a thoughtful leader who has proven outstanding services and accomplishments in the field of change management. And an individual who has demonstrated successful innovative contributions that drive performance in this industry.

Three aspects of the award are especially meaningful to me.  First, I was nominated by a client.  The client recognized me for both the work we have done together helping his organization execute mission-critical change and build change leadership capacity, as well as for the work I have done to create the CQ System for Developing Change Intelligence.

Second, the award was bestowed by fellow change management peers who launched the ACMP-Midwest Chapter with me.  I served on the Chapter Board for two years and transitioned out this summer.  Each Board member has made contributions to our field and serves their organizations and clients with excellence – as well as the change management community as a whole.  It is very moving to be acknowledged by such talented and committed colleagues.

Third, the award represents a great deal beyond my individual recognition.  If you don’t know about the ACMP – you should!  Its mission is to advance the discipline of change management.  I learned of the ACMP only three years ago, after over 20+ years in the business and participating in many professional associations, and immediately felt like “I found my tribe”!

The organization is only four years old, and already has a global presence with members, chapters, and events around the world.  In its short existence, the ACMP has accomplished the following important and ambitious goals:

Becoming a member gives you access to a global network of change management professionals, postings about new change management opportunities, and resources such as on-demand webinars and downloadable content for your continued professional development.  Please consider joining me in this pioneering and dynamic organization!

How Does an Engaged Work Culture Thrive for 25 Years?

Twenty-five years ago the ground broke in a cornfield in Indiana for an innovative new type of steel mill.  Nippon Steel of Japan and Inland Steel of the U.S. partnered with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) to construct I/N Tek and I/N Kote.  The mill broke new ground both in its “technical” system, as well as in its “people” system.

After spending the recession years of the mid-80’s laboring in the Rustbelt and consulting with firms that were in bankruptcy, in danger of insolvency, or in general needing to “change or die,” the opportunity to work with a start-up company was a thrilling adventure early in my career.  As part of the renaissance of American steel, the company was going to be a radical departure from traditional, integrated mills of the past.  Instead it would be founded upon lean, continuous operations technologies.  To run the new type of “technical system,” union and management wanted a new type of “people system” – a new vision of partnership – a self-managed team approach.

During our design team meetings as the mill was built and commissioned, the dark joke was that “either I/N Tek and I/N Kote would be the shining light that would transform the autocratic, outmoded way ‘the old company’ [Inland Steel’s main integrated steel facility just a few miles away] would do business, or they will send troops to squelch the revolution in the cornfield.”  The design and implementation process was filled with excitement – and trepidation.

Last year the parent companies and union hosted a 25th Jubilee to celebrate their Silver Anniversary!  Twenty-five years of profit, productivity – and partnership.

Much has changed in over two decades.  The joint owners and the union has changed.  Nippon is now Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metals.  Inland Steel is now part of ArcelorMittal.  The USWA is now the USW.   And the steel landscape has changed.  Foreign competition.  Domestic competition.  Customers changing expectations and preferences for lighter metals, new alloys.

Through it all, I/N Tek and I/N Kote has not just survived, but thrived.  Through management changes, union changes, employee changes, technology change, industry changes – and on and on.

Why?
Of course, the company is founded upon still-innovative technology and a winning business model.  And, a major success factor is the soundness of its founding work culture principals:  a TRULY team-based work culture, with people at all levels, in all functions, working together toward a common goal.

Are there problems?  Of course.
Opportunities? Yes indeed. And that’s why they contacted me a year ago, to ask me to come back and partner with them once again to “renew the work culture.”

These steelworkers have the savvy to realize that you can’t operate the equipment without periodically shutting down, taking it apart, lubing it up, and sometimes retrofitting it with new and improved parts.  Similarly, a work culture needs period maintenance and renewal.

We all can relate to that just thinking about our bodies – which are systems too!  Twenty-five years ago, I could work 16 hour days, travel to a new client with little sleep, and do it again.  Now, in my second half-century, I need exercise beyond running to catch flights, to eat right, and get a reasonable amount of sleep per night.  As the graphic shows, the longer we or any system last, the more energy we need to expend just to maintain “steady state”!



A company’s work culture is a living, evolving entity.  At least, it should be if you want to effectively meet the many challenges that your organization will no doubt face, regardless of your industry or business model or geography.

Change Intelligent leaders know they need to remain agile and continually adapt to stay relevant and prosper.  As we learned from Jim Collins and his team in How the Might Fall: And Why Some Companies Don’t Give In, companies that succeed into the future – while their peers which are highly successful in the short-term fail – is the combination of:

•    Constancy of purpose – focus on vision, mission, and values, and

•    Flexibility of process – evolving technologies, tactics, and techniques

Indeed, when I revisited I/N Tek and I/N Kote after two decades, the vision, mission, and values statements we drafted in the early ‘90s were still posted on the wall, in the office areas, operations pulpits, and maintenance rooms, throughout the mill – constancy of purpose.  And, now there were employees who were children of the founding team members, upgraded technologies, and new business practices – flexibility of process.

As a leader, do you pay attention to your organization’s work culture?  Work culture can seem an amorphous concept, beyond our intentional control.  And yet, while not completely in our control, we can have a positive influence on our company culture, regardless of our position, tenure, or age.

Here are some questions to ask yourself, as a leader committed to helping your organization be nimble, agile, and Change Intelligent into the future:

•    Does your organization have a vision, mission, or values statement?  If so, when is the last time you looked at it?  Mentioned it to your team?  Used it to guide decision-making and behaviors?

•    Do you periodically take a pulse of your culture?  What is the level of engagement?  Teamwork up, down, and across the organization?  Commitment to strategic goals and objectives?

•    In what areas can we do better – where does our lofty rhetoric not match the reality of what it’s like to work in our company on a day-to-day basis?  On what topics would we benefit from engaging in tough conversations to get ourselves back on track, and in line with our espoused beliefs?

Change Intelligent leaders look to the past to honor collective history, look to the future to progress toward new horizons, and foster collaborative cultures to empower people to partner on the journey together.

Leading Through Transition: 3 Powerful Tools to Equip Your Team

Dr. Bridges, a giant in the field of change management, shows us the distinction between “change” (what happens on the “outside” – be it a harrowing tsunami or a hostile take-over) and “transition” (what happens on the “inside” – our psychological and emotional reactions).

As Dr. Bridges demonstrates, transitioning from the old to the new happens in three stages; the Ending, the Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings. As leaders charged with supporting our people through major transitions, how can change intelligence help us as we endeavor to help others move through these phases?

  1. During the Ending Stage, we need to let go of the past, say goodbye to “the way things have always been done.”  Change intelligent leaders start with the “heart,” connecting with people at an emotional level, dealing with feelings of loss (security, status, skills).  They then educate the “head,” clarifying the why and what of the change:  What is really ending, and why are these changes necessary?  What’s the business case, and what’s the implication for me?  Helping the “hands” by explaining the specific plan and sharing as much information as possible multiple times through multiple mechanisms lends comfort and some sense of control during this stressful time.
  2. The Neutral Zone finds us, just like the first ambitious flowers poking up through the still-falling snow here in my hometown near Chicago, hovering between two realities – often confused and feeling caught in “limbo.” In this phase, build on your heartfelt connection with others by sharing your vulnerability:  in what ways have you been unsure and even doubting yourself, and how have you overcome your anxiety and gotten back to effective action?  Exhibit patience with missed deadlines and off-target efforts – recognize this is a sign that you need to engage the brain by prioritizing new goals and actively listening to unearth barriers people are facing, both in the shifting workplace and within themselves.  Talk tactics with people.  Change intelligent leaders recognize that they may need to deploy temporary procedures.  Providing structure and “hand holding” from an involved, in-the-trenches leader can be invaluable to guide people on the new path.  Work alongside people to channel the chaos into creativity, so you can all move from stuck to back in momentum.
  3. New Beginnings come when the change finally starts to happen. People’s first efforts in a new style are delicate, fragile, and easily injured.  It is a leader’s responsibility to protect and nurture.  Recognizing small successes and behaviors supporting the new way of working both recognizes people’s efforts as well as clarifies the new expectations for others.  Remind people of the purpose of the change and demonstrate to them through anecdotal stories and hard statistical evidence corroborating the soundness of the rationale.  Be consistent in rolling out the change and relentless in identifying and remediating systems and actions blocking the transformation that must occur.  Involve people as partners in the process – you’ll get actionable feedback, higher quality solutions, and mutual accountability to the team and the change objectives.  By approaching the transition process in this way, change intelligence leaders inspire the heart, engage the head, and help the hands toward a brighter future. And, they remember that the three stages are iterative, overlapping, and happen at different times and manifest differently for different people and groups.

While we can’t foresee when the tsunamis of life will hit us, we can prepare ourselves and be of service to others by building our change intelligence, so when the inevitable comes, we’re as ready as we can be. That’s why the most effective change leaders have the self-awareness to adapt their styles to the unique demands of unique individuals and their unique transition experiences.

Why I am Optimistic for 2016

Watch the news and it’s easy to be cynical – wars, crime, disease, natural disasters.  And yet, is this the reality of modern life, or the interpretation of it that’s reported?  Considering violence, as Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker notes, “things really are getting better…..headlines are a poor guide to history. People’s sense of danger is warped by the availability of memorable examples – which is why we are more afraid of getting eaten by a shark than falling down the stairs, though the latter is likelier to kill us…..Despite the headlines, and with circumscribed exceptions, the world has continued its retreat from violence….As modernity widens our circle of cooperation, we come to recognize the futility of violence and apply our collective ingenuity to reducing it. Though a few narcissistic despots and atavistic zealots stand athwart this current, history does not appear to be on their side.”  [Click here for compelling statistics and graphics supporting his assertions.]

Andrew Weil, complementary medicine pioneer and wellness guru, recommends periods “news fasts” – “a news fast simply means opting out of watching the news on television, listening to it on the radio, reading newspapers, or following the news on the Internet for a few days or even a week at a time. I believe that taking periodic breaks from the news can promote mental calm and help renew your spirits. In this way, the anxiety and overstimulation catalyzed by the media may be minimized, and your body will function better.”  What a great way to end the year or start the new one – unplug, unwind, refresh and renew.

It can be challenging to focus on the positive, maintain a positive attitude, and consistently act with positivity.  And yet, the benefits of optimism are tangible.  As Martin Seligman, father of the positive psychology movement, states “optimists are higher achievers, better able to develop to their full potential, happier, and have better overall health,” among many other personal and professional outcomes.

More good news:  if you’re not an optimist by nature (and studies show that most people tend toward pessimism), hopefulness and positivity can be learned.  To build this mindset, Seligman sharesin Learned Optimism this simple yet powerful A-B-C model:

  • Adversity:  An event that happens.  For example, your company announces a new leadership team and reorganization.
  • Belief:  Your interpretation of the event.  For example, you think, “Here we go again!  A new regime and another program of the year!  Same circus, different clowns.”
  • Consequence:  Feelings and actions that result from your beliefs.  For example, you anticipate a lot of swirl without strategy, feel cynical and disengaged, and decide to keep your head down until this too shall pass.

Now, I’m not saying this is what “you,” my reader, would do – but you’ve witness this cycle.  Given the 70+% of the workforce that is actively disengaged (according to Gallup research), it’s all too common, and we’ve all experienced the lost productivity, poor customer service, and diminished loyalty and trust that results for organizations.

Yet, what about for us as individuals?  What can we control?  Ultimately, only ourselves – our attitudes and our actions.  While pessimism may be in our nature, we can nurture ourselves toward optimism – and reap all its benefits – regardless of what’s happening around us in our environment.

The first step is simply noticing our reactions to events – unearthing our own beliefs, and observing their consequences.  Second, we can begin to take even more ownership of our emotions and behaviors, recognizing that “I’m the boss of me”!  All empowerment is fundamentally self-empowerment, and all engagement starts with the choice be engaged – in work and in life.  As the Eagles sang, “So oftentimes it happens that we live our lives in chains – that we never even know we have the key.”

Cheers to a prosperous 2016 – full of positive change – and powerful change leaders – starting with YOU!

 

Be a Change Leader – Not “Just” a Change Manager!

Unfortunately, most change-based training programs focus exclusively on “Change Management” and exceedingly few on “Change Leadership.”  Change Management is the methods and tools of change: and these are critical to get the job done.  Yet, being savvy in deploying a Change Management Toolkit is best viewed as a baseline competency – what we need to be nominally effective at a very basic level. What we need to be optimally impactful is to hone our Change Leadership capacity.  As an example, this is the distinction between drafting a Stakeholder Engagement Plan, versus being able to genuinely engage stakeholders at all levels, from the C-suite to the front lines and across functions and geographies.

Think Globally, Act Locally, and Panic Internally

When I train leaders in Change Intelligence, we spend a lot of time diagnosing and developing our strengths, blind spots, and coaching opportunities to enhance our competence and confidence – and reduce our stress and frustration.

Quick example: an IT project manager I coached had the epiphany that emailing a quick reference guide for a new procedural change wasn’t quite enough to encourage adoption by end users (in other words, he provided a training tool that helped the hands, but completely missed the opportunity to show people why the change was necessary from a business sense as well as to engage with them to communicate why they should care). In his words, “maybe it wasn’t them resisting – maybe it was me not leading – who knew?!”

The bottom line message of the CQ/Change Intelligence System is that what so often looks like resistance in others, is a lack of effective leadership behaviors in ourselves. We as change agents are not giving people what they need to “get it” (engaging the brain – the “what and why” – the vision and strategy), to “want it” (inspiring the heart – the “who” – the hopes and fears), or to be able to “do it” (helping the hands – the “how” – the training and tools).

Here are some provocative questions to inspire both your own personal self-reflection as well as coaching conversations with clients on your Change Leadership journey:

  1. Am I aware of my own emotions in the face of change?  Do I deny or explore them?  What are they telling me and how can they lead me to the solutions I seek ?  How can allowing myself to feel what I feel help evolve me into an even more powerful Change Agent?
  2. Are the leaders/sponsors of your change initiatives “doing as they say others should do?”  Are they catalyzing or crushing commitment?  Is there an opportunity for you to have a courageous conversation with a leader you are working with?  If so, what would that be?  If so, what’s stopping you?  What would you do/say if you weren’t afraid?
  3. People in organizations today are hungering for a sense of humanity – what can you do in your change work to keep the human element at the forefront?  Would it be worthwhile to not just create a Stakeholder Plan, but also an Empathy Map delineating change impacts?  Is the human element in change being considered at each step and decision-point along the way?

CQ + EQ: A Potent Combination for Leaders (and what it means for you)

cq-eq

Assuming you’re familiar with CQ, let’s take a step back and look at EQ.  When introducing the concept to clients for the first time, I often get a response such as, “we base our decisions on logic and facts – we don’t bring our emotions to work.”  Or, as one of my more colorful clients, a manufacturing executive explained, “we don’t do that touchy-feely crap!”

But, we’ve all experienced how our preferences don’t always determine our reality – right? After all, anyone who’s even somewhat familiar with brain science knows that “leaving our emotions at the workplace door” is simply not possible:  When we experience a sensation (anything from our sense organs – a sight, sound, smell, touch, taste) it first registers in our reptilian brain, then passes to our limbic system (the seat of the emotions), and then travels to our cerebral cortex (our thinking brain).  

As much as we might wish it were otherwise, we each bring our whole person to work with us everyday – our bodies and brains, our thoughts and our emotions.  And, moreover, we decide how we feel about something first, before we get a chance to process what we think about it!

Yet, the viewpoint expressed by the manufacturing executive is a very common one – and illustrative of the fact that even the most intelligent leaders are misinformed about what EQ really is.  As Daniel Goleman, a leader in Emotional Intelligence, teaches us, EQ is not about being “touchy-feely” – it’s about being aware of your feelings, and those of others; EQ is not about being nice all the time – it’s about being honest; and EQ is not about being emotional – it’s about being smart with your emotions.   

Just looking at the impact of EQ on overall career success, consider the following:

  • EQ alone explains 58% of a leader’s job performance
  • 90% of top performers are high in EQ while just 20% of low performers are high in EQ
  • EQ is linked to job performance at every level in every industry

And moreover, to get a taste of the profound impact EQ can have on organizational success, when plant supervisors were trained in EQ:

  • Lost time accidents were reduced by 50%
  • Formal grievances went from 15 per year to 3
  • Productivity goals were exceeded by $250,000

You know from being a part of the CQ community that developing Change Intelligence empowers leaders to be more competent and competent in managing change, teams to be more effective in jointly facilitating change, and organizations (as a whole) to more smoothly bring to life successful and sustainable change.  But, what about the power of CQ and EQ when used together?  This is a question I’m often asked, both from the stage in delivering keynotes and also in working with executives and teams. I believe it’s an important one to explore – since it can accelerate your ability to make an impact and to successfully lead change.

Combining CQ and EQ is a winning approach to equip ourselves and other leaders to meet the increasingly demanding challenges we’re experiencing in today’s workplace.  I’ve learned this first hand using a joint approach over the last year at several client organizations.

In addition, I recently taught a guest lecture in the “Leadership Principles and Practices” class at Northwestern University.  Since he required reading for the class is both Change Intelligence as well as Goleman’s Primal Leadership, I addressed this question in depth to the graduate students in the class:

How can building our EQ in addition to CQ help us lead change?

Inspire the Heart:  High CQ leaders know that we need to connect, communicate, and collaborate with people to design and implement change that sticks.  High EQ leaders’ heightened relationship management skills ensure they are better able to do so.

Engage the Brain:  High CQ leaders know that we need to make the business case for the change, sharing visions for the future and strategies that paint a picture of how to achieve transformational goals.  High EQ leaders are more sensitive in assessing people’s “current state” in terms of their emotional reactions when confronted with a major change, and are more savvy in being able to craft customized messages that paint a more effective line-of-sight from present to future for a wide variety of stakeholders.

Help the Hands:  High CQ leaders know that we need to motivate movement to make changes real in the field, to translate lofty strategies to specific tactics people can execute, and provide them the training and tools to do so.  High EQ leaders have honed their radar to be in tuned with barriers that are standing in people’s way to altering their behavior and adopting new ways of working, such as fears of loss of skills, status, or security.

Moving to the team level, groups with members high in EQ, which also know their individual Change Leader styles as well as their Team CQ Profile, are better equipped to proactively and openly leverage their strengths, identify and shore-up their blind spots, and give/receive genuine feedback to facilitate true partnerships in leading the change process together.

Leaders with high EQ are more effective at engaging employees, and companies with engaged cultures outperform their counterparts on a wide variety of metrics from profitability to quality to customer satisfaction to turnover.  Workplaces with leaders who make a commitment to build CQ and EQ at all levels have a much higher probability of overcoming the dismal 70% failure rate of major change initiatives, and instead, execute transformations that stick – and generate a lasting return on investment.

Top 10 Trends in Project Management (for ALL Change Leaders!)

ESI International, the project management training company, published its views on the top 10 trends in project management for 2015. ESI Managing Director, EMEA, Alan Garvey comments “Organisations will increasingly begin to view strategic execution as a core discipline….The impact on project management is significant. Project managers, who used to just be accountable for delivering project outcomes, will now also be responsible for how those deliverables impact the business. This shift will require a fine tuning of their skillsets. At the same time the PM’s role as a critical enabler of business strategy will emerge.”

ESI’s top trends include:

  1.  Lofty expectations: PMs need to become adept at managing gaps between [project] constraints and the business expectations.
  2. Out-of-whack: Talent management within the PM community comes back into focus.
  3. Fuel for the hybrid: As the pace of change continues to accelerate, hybrid project methods will become the norm.
  4. Too little, too late: The ability to find and hire top PM talent is dwindling.
  5. Bottoms up: Organisations must build bottom-up processes to link project outcomes to organisational strategy.
  6. Ignore them at your own peril: Project managers will continue to be ignored and not get the coaching and mentoring they are screaming for.
  7. Run!: Project managers continue to sacrifice project transparency as they flee from conflict and avoid difficult conversations
  8. Change is coming: The disciplines of change management and project management continue to merge as PMs become responsible for delivering project and business outcomes.
  9. Knocking at the door: Project management and business strategy better align to the benefit of the organisation.
  10. Culture shock: Organisational culture becomes a bigger consideration in risk management practices.

Building Change Intelligence enables PMs (and all Change Leaders) to meet these challenges with skill and savvy – CQ equips Change Leaders to:

Engage the “Heart” – connect people with each other, the project, and its purpose; foster communication and feedback loops up, down, across, inside, and outside the organization; promote open and transparent dialogue about cultural considerations and project expectations;

Inspire the “Head” – align project objectives with strategic business goals; facilitate crucial  conversations about critical success and failure factors such as talent development, resource allocation and risk management; aim key stakeholders toward a new vision for aspirational outcomes;

Help the “Hands” – drive execution via efficiently managing plans and processes; ensure people have the right training and tools to get the job done; promote mutual accountability for sustainable success.

A final note from ESI’s Garvey:

“Savvy PMs will identify their opportunities for career growth and will position themselves to improve their competencies in some critical areas. Bettering interpersonal skills, learning the discipline of strategic execution, and becoming well versed in change management practices should be on every PM’s list.”